Quarry v. Doe I, S171382.

Citation139 Cal.Rptr.3d 3,2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 4153,53 Cal.4th 945,12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 3560,272 P.3d 977
Decision Date29 March 2012
Docket NumberNo. S171382.,S171382.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
PartiesTerry QUARRY et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. DOE I, Defendant and Respondent.


Zalkin & Zimmer, The Zalkin Law Firm, San Diego, Irwin M. Zalkin, Michael H. Zimmer, Devin M. Storey and Michael J. Kinslow for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Jeff Anderson & Associates, Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles, and Sarah Odegaard for The National Association for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Nancy O'Malley, District Attorney (Alameda); Furtado, Jaspovice & Simons, Hayward, Bill Lockyer and Richard J. Simons as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.Reed Smith, Los Angeles, Margaret M. Grignon; Foley & Lardner, Los Angeles, Stephen A. McFeely, Tami S. Smason, Courtney R. Henning, Leila Nourani and Michael B. McCollum for Defendant and Respondent.Lombardi, Loper & Conant, Oakland, Peter O. Glaessner and Lori A. Sebransky for The Ordinary Mutual as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Daniel H. Bromberg, Redwood Shores; Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, James C. Geoly and Nora Flaherty Couri for The Order of Carmelites, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, The Order of the Friar Servants of Mary, USA Province and The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.Hennigan, Bennett & Dorman, J. Michael Hennigan and Lee W. Potts, Los Angeles, for the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.Sweeney & Greene, Sacramento, James F. Sweeney, Stephen J. Greene, Jr., and Laura Borden Riddell for California Association of Private School Organizations as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold and Nicholas W. Heldt, San Francisco, for Boy Scouts of America and Masonic Homes of California, Inc., as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.Neumiller & Beardslee, Stockton, Paul N. Balestracci, Lisa Blanco Jimenez; McNamara Law Firm and Gary A. Watt, Walnut Creek, for the Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.CANTIL–SAKAUYE, C.J.

Plaintiffs brought an action against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland, alleging that defendant bore responsibility for sexual abuse committed during the 1970's by a priest then assigned to the Oakland diocese. Plaintiffs allege that in 2006 they discovered for the first time that the cause of their adult psychological injuries was the sexual abuse inflicted by this priest when they were children. It is our task to determine whether their claims are timely within the limitations period established by Code of Civil Procedure section 340.1.1

Section 340.1 governs the period within which a plaintiff must bring a tort claim based upon childhood sexual abuse. The statute must be understood in an historical context. Over the years, the limitations period for claims alleging sexual abuse against children continually was expanded as to actions that were brought against those persons who were the direct perpetrators of the sexual abuse. Moreover, in 1990 the Legislature elected to specify that such causes of action against direct perpetrators could be brought within eight years of majority or within three years of the time the plaintiff discovered that psychological injury was caused by childhood abuse. It was only in 1998, however, that the statute was amended to include third party defendants within its purview, and as to such defendants the Legislature elected not to embrace the open-ended discovery provision past the plaintiff's 26th birthday. On the contrary, drawing a clear distinction between direct perpetrators and third party defendants, in 1998 the Legislature provided that claims against third party defendants must be brought prior to the plaintiff's 26th birthday. The claims of plaintiffs in the present case clearly were lapsed by 1998, because by that date plaintiffs all had passed their 26th birthdays.

In a 2002 amendment, the Legislature removed the strict age 26 cutoff for claims against a subcategory of third party defendants. Pursuant to the 2002 amendment, this subcategory of responsible third party defendants was swept within the provision that previously governed claims against actual perpetrators, meaning that even after the plaintiff reached the age of 26, a cause of action against these third party defendants could be brought within three years after the plaintiff discovered his or her psychological injury was caused by childhood abuse.

But what of causes of action against the subcategory of third party defendants that already had lapsed under the law as it existed in 1998? As we shall explain, in our view a specific subdivision added by the 2002 amendment provides the sole basis for the revival of such lapsed claims. Because plaintiffs did not bring their action within the one-year revival period prescribed by the 2002 amendment, their claims are barred. Our conclusion rests upon three points: The 1998 amendment under which claims against persons or entities other than the direct perpetrator of the abuse 2 could not be brought once a plaintiff reached the age of 26; the usual rule of construction that lapsed claims are not considered revived without express legislative language of revival; and the express—but limited—language of revival contained in the 2002 amendment to section 340.1.

For the reasons discussed below, the judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed.


Plaintiffs are six brothers born respectively in 1957, 1958, 1959 (twins), 1962, and 1963. Their ages ranged from 43 to 49 when they filed suit. Defendant is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland.3 In a complaint filed in March 2007 and amended in July 2007, plaintiffs alleged they suffered injury as adults as a consequence of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in the 1970's. In their first amended complaint, plaintiffs alleged that they were members of the St. Joachim parish in Hayward in 1972 and 1973, during the period Father Donald Broderson was an associate pastor of the parish. The complaint alleged that Father Broderson, who is not a defendant in this action, “sexually abused and molested the altar boys at St. Joachim's parish ... by grabbing, fondling, kissing on the mouth, and engaging in other inappropriate sexual conduct with the boys, including Plaintiffs.... Fr. Broderson sexually abused each of the Plaintiffs in 1972 and/or 1973, while he was assigned as an associate pastor at St. Joachim's parish.”

The complaint alleged that defendant should be held responsible for Father Broderson's actions because the priest was “under its direct supervision, employ and control.” The complaint named additional Doe defendants, alleging that persons belonging to the diocese, knowing or having reason to know that Father Broderson had committed unlawful sexual conduct in the past, failed to execute their duty to take reasonable steps to avoid future acts of unlawful sexual conduct on the part of Father Broderson, including by preventing him from working in contact with children.

The complaint alleged that plaintiffs did not discover until 2006 that the sexual abuse was the cause of their adult psychological problems. In support, the complaint alleges that the sexual abuse resulting from defendant's alleged breach of duty caused psychological damage to plaintiffs, damage that rendered them unable to recognize either as children or well into adulthood the wrongfulness of Father Broderson's actions and the causal connection between the abuse and the emotional and psychological damage they suffered throughout their lives. Specifically, [plaintiffs] did not discover, and reasonably could not discover, the wrongfulness of Father Broderson's conduct until the second half of the 2005 calendar year, when Father Broderson was deposed in connection with a civil lawsuit, admitted to sexually abusing Plaintiffs, and Plaintiffs were contacted by an attorney representing other victims of Father Broderson. Plaintiff[s] ... did not discover, and could not reasonably have discovered that injuries occurring during [their] adulthood were caused by the molestation at the hands of Fr. Broderson, until on or after March 6, 2006, when Plaintiff[s] met with a mental health practitioner. As a result, within the one calendar year preceding the filing of this action, Plaintiff[s] ... discovered that the psychological injury occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual abuse.”

The first amended complaint alleged 14 causes of action, primarily including claims for negligence in hiring, retaining, and supervising Father Broderson despite knowledge of his prior acts of sexual abuse, and negligent failure to protect plaintiffs or warn them of their peril.

The trial court sustained defendant's demurrer to the first amended complaint without leave to amend on the ground that the limitations period established by section 340.1 barred the action, and the action was not revived by the 2002 amendment to that provision. The court entered judgment dismissing the complaint with prejudice.

The Court of Appeal reversed, agreeing with plaintiffs that, pursuant to the 2002 amendment to section 340.1 “their claims did not even begin to run until 2006, when they first discovered their ‘psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual abuse.’

This court granted defendant's petition for review. “Because this appeal arises from a judgment of dismissal following the sustaining of demurrers without leave to amend, we “give[ ] the complaint a reasonable...

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